Jack With a Trout
We got up at dawn and made our way to the river. I ducked through the woods pushing the dewy branches aside, stepped into the river and tied on a nymph. I cast into the swift water and let it drift. A Golden-Eye duck flew up the river and past me. I cast again, and this time a trout bit my fly and pulled my line out. I netted it, delighted by the thrill of catching a fish, and admired its bright red sides. We caught fish after fish in the early morning, working our way down the river laughing at our luck.
Summer days move like a trout in the river, slowly with the current, and then with occasional bursts of energetic activity.
At dusk we sat around the campfire listening to the loons’ haunting calls from the pond. My toes dug into the grass in front of the flickering flames. The lid of the BBQ grill was open and the smell of dinner wafted toward me. Lightening bugs flickered in the bushes along the yard. The warm summer air settled heavily on my bare arms. I closed my eyes and soaked in the summer evening.
Moose Behind Camp
Spring is slow to arrive in Rangeley, but the snow is in fact melting and the rivers are flowing again! A few fish are biting and the snowbanks that I have to climb over to stand in the rivers are quickly diminishing. Last week as I stood in the river, bundled up in layers beneath my waders, three osprey circled overhead fishing with me. None of us caught anything, but it was still good to be out on the water.
The birds are starting to come back and forage on the newly bare ground around camp. As I stood on the porch drinking my morning tea a flock of 150-200 dark eyed juncos flew into the yard and surrounded Red Quill on all sides! I stood on the porch amidst them as they flitted between the ground and tree branches feeding for about 7 minutes and then they all flew away. It was a whirlwind of feathers and chirping announcing the arrival of spring.
buried in snow!
For the second time this winter as I pulled into the driveway of Red Quill I could hardly see the windows because the snow banks were so high! It was a clear and bitter cold night; the stars twinkled behind the frozen brittle branches of the birch trees in the back yard. A few deer stood beneath the thicket of evergreen trees and stared at my headlights, their nostrils steaming with breath, their thick healthy coats making them look like miniature elk. I shut my headlights off and strained to see them in the dark. When I got out of the car they had already disappeared into the night.
Around camp I could see the tracks of rabbits and weasels crisscrossing the yard and I added my own footprints to the mix. I was eager to track them in the morning.
Adventure called this winter and it has kept me from writing about what a fantastic winter it has been! I was away in January exploring the jagged peaks and glaciers of Patagonia Chile and Argentina–a truly wild landscape! And although I was happy to be away during the bitter cold start to this season, it was also nice to come home to the cozy fire of Red Quill and fresh snow.
a cozy fire
Adventuring in Patagonia
The porch was warm and the windowsill was lined with wine bottles for Thanksgiving dinner. I snuck out of the kitchen and scooped up my niece in a bear-hug to steal her away for a moment while the cranberry sauce thickened. The house smelled of turkey and pie and the yard was covered in festive winter snow. There was plenty to be thankful for at Red Quill this year and I watched the snow falling as I played with my niece.
I woke up still stuffed with turkey and mash potatoes and looked out of the window to the sun streaking through the frozen tree branches. The snow was lightly falling and everything was covered in glistening white powder—8 inches of new snow!
I headed to the mountain, giddy with anticipation for the first turns of the year on the slopes. Saddleback wasn’t open for the season yet, but I peeled my climbing skins apart and stuck them to the bottom of my skis and we started cutting through the powder to the top of the mountain in the morning sunshine.
Near the top I pointed my tips down the slope and let the first turns of the year rip! The cover was a little thin and I hit a few rocks tucked under the white surface, but as long as I didn’t dig my edges into the snow I could manage without getting too many core-shots to the bottom of my skis. I let the powder fly, occasionally cringing at all the little rocks I could feel underfoot, and then rejoicing when I found deeper snow to turn in. I hooted and hollered leaving a poof of snow behind me. The first ski of the year is pure joy; our laughter rang out on the mountain as we remembered the magic of skiing fresh snow.